|Elder Ward, Elder Pyne (waiting for a visa to Argentina) and Elder Bassett|
Another week, and it's still a great day to be a missionary in the Utah Ogden Mission (that's our mission's motto). We are loving it with our brand new set of 11 visa waiters that showed up yesterday heading to Argentina. Visa waiters never really have gone to zone leaders, but as soon as we found out there were some coming in, we called the assistants and asked if we could have one, ha-ha. So… Elder Pyne got here yesterday after six weeks in the MTC and is heading to Mendoza Argentina. He is from St. Louis and has been here about 24 hours. He is a really nice guy; we like him a lot. He is excited about missionary work and seems to get along really well in our companionship. He did Rosetta Stone before the mission, so he talks just about as much Spanish as I did when I got out. He did really well with his first contact yesterday, and of course, loves the perks of being a Utah missionary. We went to Sam’s Club today, and a lady walked up and handed us 20 dollars for lunch. That’s always a plus. We went to Olive Garden again last week with the assistants, and someone paid for us so that was a lot more breadsticks as well.
Something AWFUL happened in church on Sunday, though. I saw a lady that recognized me from my first area of the mission. She walked up to me and told me that I looked fat. I said what?! I haven't put on any weight, and she said it looked like I had put on a bunch. I was very offended despite everyone telling me that means I look healthy. This is the same lady that eight months ago told me that I looked like I was 14; so I wasn't exactly happy to see her again either. Then she went and bought us rancheritos and brought it to her house on Sunday, ha-ha. I don't think they quite understand the whole Sabbath-day-holy thing. We thought she planned on making the burritos herself when we called the night before to ask about dinner.
So anyways, I was flossing afterward and broke my permanent retainer, and we figured that was the Lord's way of punishing us for her buying the burritos. But once again, we are Utah missionaries so I called the doctor on Monday, had an appointment set up for this morning, and now my retainer is fixed. I need to be more careful flossing though…darn it.
Side note...Elder Ward's birthday is April 24th (same as Brandon’s!), and he is obsessed with the alloy energel pen dad just sent me if you want to send him an early birthday present. We had a really funny musical number happen on Sunday. It was a farewell for a nineteen-year-old girl, and in between talks two Hispanic ladies came up with an ipad and played that bouncy soundtrack for, ‘I Hope They Call Me On a Mission’ and sang the first verse about as badly as you can imagine and then sat down. Elder Ward and I have gotten really good at keeping straight faces during musical numbers in the Spanish program.
Speaking of which, we are giving a musical number at a party/welcome-home for a kid serving a misison that gets home this Saturday. All seven missionaries of the ward are invited, but only the three of us are white and can therefore sing, ha-ha. So we are singing, ‘Mas Cerca Dios de Ti’ (‘Nearer My God to Thee’). The first verse is all melody; second I am bass, and they are melody; third I am bass, Elder Ward tenor, and Elder Pyne melody. Elder Ward is the only one who knows how to sing, but I have learned not to really care since they think missionaries sound amazing no matter how bad we are.
So anyways, I am fat. I still lift everyday and don't think I look fat, but that lady couldn't have just been making it up, so I have been eating less the past couple of days and just won't ever have seconds anymore, and I am going to start lifting harder and running. See if they call me fat now. HA!
So we found out on Sunday that we are being poached by at least two sets of missionaries that are teaching people in our boundaries...and we have the smallest area out of all of them by far. I don't get why they don't just send us the referral; we give out probably five referrals a day. You would think people would be more considerate, but oh well, if they want to teach them then there is really nothing we can do about it.
So Elder Ardaya, one the assistants, goes to the same gym as us in the mornings, and he says I look and sound like Kevin Costner which I think is ridiculous, but what do you think?
I had my first zone leader council this week, and lots of people said it was the best one they have ever been to. I really liked it. It was very spiritual. We talked a lot about making Christ the center of everything we do. They did a role-play for us, and it was mainly just the two assistants crying while talking about Christ, and we have used it, too and really liked it. We talked about the mission goal for the next two weekends (two days ago and the coming week)… how each zone needs to get 11 baptisms in order to complete our goal of 460 baptisms in three months. We had a mission wide fast on Sunday. We only had a couple of missionaries refuse to do it, because they have too much pride to listen to Sister Hiers since, "she's not even our mission president"...love those guys...but the rest of us did it. All the zone leaders were very excited to accomplish it after hearing them talk about how that goal was by revelation and Jesus Christ expects that many baptisms in two weeks and to get it done. So we are going to try to do our part although we have J1 and the APs in our zone, so we would be fine anyways.
So we were going to keep going with Robin's date for this weekend, but he won't quit smoking. He said he really just wants to slow down anyways when we talked to him yesterday. He is funny; he has the most passive, round-about way of telling us anything. He took ten minutes to tell us that it’s annoying how we come over all the time, and he doesn’t want to get baptized yet. It kind of just made us laugh because of the way he talks....."I mean, you know, it's cool, essentially, that you come over. I mean, I love it, you guys are importantly, awesome… and initially, I love that you visit me, I mean, yeah it is annoying, now that I think about it...but yeah I love it..." he speaks in a very weird way. I hope this illustrates it a little bit. So he is definitely not going to help us with our goal, but one person that will is Sister Ramirez.
She doesn’t live in a our ward boundaries, but her two kids go to our ward, because they like it better. People here don't understand boundaries; they just go where they feel like, but we talked to the leaders and they just told us to teach them (She lives in Elder Plowman’s area, and he knows about it.) and baptized them into Jefferson second since she will be moving to Mexico eventually anyways. She came to church and one of the AP’s baptisms last Saturday and wants to do it but has all these weak concerns that are covering that ice burg we are trying to figure out. She is worried about the church not being in Mexico…and just taking our word for it rather than the Lords, and she doesn’t want to get in the water, and doesn’t want anyone to watch. It's tough to be patient with those types of concerns, but we are doing are best and left her on Sunday with an invitation to pray about it.
Karina has effectively avoided us for a few days, as well as Ray, so they are both out, but Jose is back from Mexico so hopefully, we can teach him eventually. The lady, Maria, that really loves us kind of dropped us yesterday, because she said that her husband doesn’t like us, and she wants to support him even though she knows God sent us. We left her number to call us and maybe I just have lack of faith, but she will never call. Lots of other rejections came from people that have taken the lessons already…this area is tough!
This area, Hyrum, and Idaho are known as the non-baptizing Spanish areas of the mission (lucky me :)), but I have been always trying to not let the history of areas or excuses slow me down, but it’s been tough. I feel like I haven't been that successful as a missionary, but I try to ignore that and just keep going anyways. They always talk about how the world is changing, the numbers are picking up, and baptizing weekly is an expectation of the Lord now...so am I doing my part? But honestly, I have been happy. I love this area and don't ever get down. We are happy all the time and working hard. Elder Ward is the best. He will help me to be more successful even in an area that is pretty tough and doesn’t have any more than ten baptisms in the past year. Asi es la vida.
Elder Pyne seems cool. We were excited yesterday at the office. They brought each greenie up one at a time and announced them. We almost tackled him when they called our name, and it was even funnier, because he is so small. He has been distracting us with a fairly detailed description of batman yesterday during a late night discussion, and he has that fire that you have coming out of the MTC.
They have no idea what to do with all these new missionaries. They are going to start switching us to English, which I would really not like, but I guess it has to happen, because we have too many Spanish and not enough English. Our zone is doing pretty well. We need to emphasize some rules people have been struggling to remember in district meeting, but other than that, we are trying to be everybody's friend and show lots of love to everyone-except of course the sisters. I did three baptismal interviews this week and one the week before. We went to an English correlation and were astounded, as usual, when they addressed the English missionaries, they demanded that each of their nightly splits have a list of 30-50 people to visit as back-ups. Then they got to us, and we asked for some ward missionaries… NOPE...ha-ha.
We are working a lot with the young men…well we are working with one guy named Logan, and he has fire to do missionary work even though he is the priest quorum advisor, and he has been doing all the ward missionary work. The members are starting to trust us a little bit more as they see we are working but still no referrals yet. The high council guy over missionary work is the ex-mayor of Ogden and is really excited about getting our ward to start doing something. He has some ideas that should get things going in the next few months. Still doing lots of tracting every day and a little less active work we have gotten from the bishop. Less active work has been different here. The less actives tend to not like the missionaries very much here, so we are just trying to build their trust really.
We have the best apartment ever still and still the best companionship ever. We are working on charity and being effective in companionship study which will be remedied by having to do the 12 week program again with Elder Pyne.
I have noticed a difference in the way some of the missionaries with bad opinions of me beforehand showing that they are starting to trust and like me which is really good from the Spanish missionaries. They are good guys and just need some loving pushes back in the right direction. We are battling to find the line between micromanaging and just letting everything slide. It’s a tough one to figure out. Well it is time to run now.
Life is great in the Utah Ogden Mission!
PS By the way thank you for the thank you cards! We draw Elder Pyne on the inside just as a stick figure. Thanks again; they are perfect and the members love them. BTW-I can't complain, because I don't write them either, but it has been a couple months since I have heard from my siblings!
Part of the responses about his letter:
Mom: You're not fat. You are just growing up, and you're features are changing, and you are maturing. That's what she is seeing. Still keep eating!!!
Dad: She's right though. Your features are changing; we can see it in the pics. You know Hispanics, that's just how they talk. But if you're serious then you better reject the package we just sent you.
Taylor: I'll take the package and just run an extra couple miles. The problem was that she said it in English, another condescending way of her saying that I probably don't speak Spanish since I am white…but I answered in Spanish. I guess I am just overly sensitive.
Mom: Ha-ha. You probably have a larger than normal share of your mother's vanity. I think that was her way of ensuring that you didn’t eat very much at dinner.
Taylor: It worked!
Mom: She must be smarter then she looks. Or crafty. BTW-What a great letter!
Taylor: What made this one good?
Mom: Even though things are challenging, you were so upbeat, focused, and positive. You sound happy. You sound optimistic. It's been a trend in the last four or five letters.
Taylor: Huh, I guess that’s good. Things are always good if you have a good companion. Or maybe not, but at least I am figuring it out, and you can tell! Because it is tough, but I am still happy. I feel like I have been out a lot longer than 10 months.
Mom: Me, too. Dad says time will start to go really fast right about now. While Jess read your letter to us in the car, we talked about how being a missionary is spoiling you. You're really not going to want to come home to us.